Hell and High Water

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4.0
 
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Hell & High Water
Author(s)
Age Range
12+
Release Date
June 01, 2017
ISBN
9780763688752

Mystery turns to mortal danger as one young man s quest to clear his father s name ensnares him in a net of deceit, conspiracy, and intrigue in 1750s England. Caleb has spent his life roaming southern England with his Pa, little to their names but his father s signet ring and a puppet theater for popular, raunchy Punch and Judy shows until the day Pa is convicted of a theft he didn t commit and sentenced to transportation to the colonies in America. From prison, Caleb s father sends him to the coast to find an aunt Caleb never knew he had. His aunt welcomes him into her home, but her neighbors see only Caleb s dark skin. Still, Caleb slowly falls into a strange rhythm in his new life . . . until one morning he finds a body washed up on the shore. The face is unrecognizable after its time at sea, but the signet ring is unmistakable: it can only be Caleb s father. Mystery piles on mystery as both church and state deny what Caleb knows. From award-winning British author Tanya Landman comes a heart-stopping story of race, class, family, and corruption so deep it can kill."

Editor reviews

1 reviews

Hell & High Water
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
HELL & HIGH WATER by Tanya Landman is a YA historical fiction novel that is filled with suspense and mystery. When Caleb finds a man washed up on shore who is wearing his father’s signet ring, he is told this man is merely a stranger. Caleb cannot argue further as the man’s face is distorted beyond recognition, but Caleb promises himself he will find the truth. Consequently, from this moment on, I start rooting both for and against Caleb. I want Caleb to prove himself to everyone due to how unfairly the naysayers treat him. However, at the same time, if Caleb does indeed succeed, then that means his father really is dead. In this latter scenario, Caleb loses more.

The author consistently puts the characters, and by default, the readers, in the middle of difficult situations. There is never an easy answer, which can be both tedious and frustrating. While the occasional Punch and Judy puppet show offers some comedic relief, if you are looking for a “feel good” novel, HELL & HIGH WATER may not be the book for you. However, if you enjoy stories about scrappy underdogs, this book could be a great match as Caleb has just about every odd against him. Caleb is introduced as a timid, fearsome boy, but gradually, as necessity requires it, he finds his courage. He is a dynamic character, who, along with Letty, challenges race relations and gender norms in the 1750’s.

There are a few moments in this book, such as Caleb being the one to conveniently find the man’s body, that feel contrived. Such coincidences take away from the credibility of the story, despite understanding that it is a work of fiction. However, with some suspension of disbelief, HELL & HIGH WATER is still a captivating read that gives small glimpses into other ways of life.
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